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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Women’s basketball wraps up best season since 2018 with run to A-10 quarterfinals

Rachel Schwartz | Assistant Photo Editor
GW led the A-10 in 3-pointers made, shooting at a .332 percent clip after finishing third to last in the conference in made 3-pointers last year.

A squadron of established seniors and high-scoring additions led women’s basketball to their most successful year since the 2017-18 season, when the team last reached the NCAA tournament.

The Colonials (18-13, 9-7 A-10) finished the year tied for sixth in the Atlantic 10, and a triumvirate of players earned conference awards in Head Coach Caroline McCombs’ second year at the helm of the program. The Buff and Blue exceeded expectations in this year’s campaign, highlighted by a heroic 3-pointer from graduate student guard Mia Lakstigala in the A-10 tournament that sent the team to the quarterfinals.

In the quarterfinals, GW lost a hard-fought battle against Rhode Island, putting an end to a season that players said bound them together as a cohesive unit in the game and off the court.

“We’re very connected on the court as well as off the court,” senior guard Nya Lok said after the elimination loss. “We love each other so much, and we push each other every day, hold each other accountable.”

The team instituted a new program before the start of the season based on NBA star Stephen Curry’s daily practice routine in an effort to bolster the team’s subpar 3-point shooting – and the program paid dividends. GW led the A-10 in 3-pointers made, shooting at a .332 percent clip after finishing third to last in the conference in made 3-pointers last year with a measly .271 rate. GW skyrocketed from 207th in deep balls among Division I teams to 16th in just one year as of Monday.

But the team didn’t let their aggressive presence outside the arc deter them from dominating the boards after flinging up a shot – the team ranked second in the A-10 and 35th in the country in offensive rebounds with nearly 14 per game.

Freshman guard sensation Nya Robertson came off the bench to headline the year for the Colonials, breaking onto the scene to lead the team in scoring with 14.4 points per game and securing the A-10’s Sixth Woman of the Year honor.

Robertson, who secured a spot on the A-10’s All-Rookie team, found a steady role on the team off the bench. The Texan freshman lit up the scoreboard in the regular season – she finished second in made 3-pointers and 10th in scoring among all D1 freshmen.

Robertson said her work in Foggy Bottom wasn’t done after the loss to Rhode Island.

“Just staying locked in for the next couple of years, we’re going to be back for sure,” Robertson said.

Lakstigala, also a first-year Colonial after transferring from Penn, led the team in assists and scored 13.8 points per game.

Teammates of Lakstigala, whose last collegiate season ended with the team’s loss to Rhode Island, said the guard brought stability and star power to the team in her sole year wearing the Buff and Blue. Lok said Lakstigala is known in the locker room as “Mi-star,” a nickname she proved with a game-winning 3-pointer against Duquesne in the second round of the A-10 tourney that launched GW to the next round.

Lakstigala regularly drained deep shots, placing fifth in the conference in 3-point shooting rate with a .389 mark, making 68 of her 175 tries.

“Mia, she means so much to us,” Lok said. “We’re so lucky to have her on this team.”

McCombs said Lakstigala showed “true leadership” with her strong work ethic in the gym and the classroom – Lakstigala, an A-10 All-Academic Team honoree, was one of three Colonials to earn A-10 awards. Lakstigala showed grit across the floor, finishing second on the team in rebounds per game with 6.2.

“Mia is definitely my role model,” Robertson said. “She gets me out of bed, like ‘Let’s go get some shots up.’ She’s the life of this team.”

Redshirt senior forward Mayowa Taiwo was another key force on the team who showed athleticism on every inch of the court. She earned A-10 All-Defensive Team honors while leading the conference in offensive rebounds by more than 20. Taiwo secured the third-most rebounds per game in the conference with 9.7 per game and finished eighth in the A-10 in shooting percentage with a .491 clip.

Senior forward Faith Blethen, a four-year Colonial, wrapped up her collegiate basketball career with almost 20 starts and nearly 90 rebounds on the season.

Lok came alive during the A-10 tournament, leading the team with 41 points over the pair of games. The Australian guard started each of the team’s last seven games after an injury to senior guard Essence Brown. Lok averaged 14 points per game along that span.

Brown maintained a strong year as a starter before her injury, maintaining 6.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game before her Feb. 5 injury.

McCombs said the experiences of the season, from the joys of a winning streak to the adversity of tough losses, showed the team’s character and love for each other.

“We’re a team of growth, of development, just committing to a process of getting better every day,” McCombs said after the loss to Rhode Island. “They teach me things every day. I really learned from them.”

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About the Contributor
Zach Blackburn, Editor in Chief
Zach, a senior majoring in political communication, is the 2023-24 editor in chief of The Hatchet. He previously served as senior news editor and assistant news editor of the Metro beat. He hails from West Columbia, South Carolina.
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